Monday, 19 July 2004

Apathy, Ignorance, and the Vote

In an ideal republic, the public is well-informed, participates, and votes.  As the election nears we'll start to get the usual assortment of editorials decrying the apathy among the electorate, though I strongly suspect participation may be higher this year than in many many years.  I'm all for encouraging people to become informed and vote, but every election cycle I cringe when I hear some commentator declare something to the effect of "I don't care how you vote, but it's important that you vote." 
What a terrible message!  Not voting is far better than voting in ignorance.  I've heard people who should know better admit to voting without sufficient knowledge of the candidates or issues.  One fact which I fear is not made sufficiently clear at the voting booth or on the ballots is:
Abstaining from voting in a particular race DOES NOT void one's votes for other races.
I now am on the permanent absentee roles, and wouldn't have it any other way.  No longer am I surprised on election day by a race, resolution, or initiative that didn't receive the publicity it deserved before the election.  It's still tough to get enough information to be confident about choices for every judgeship, so I'll still occasionally abstain on a case by case basis if I don't have sufficient information to make an informed decision.  But it galls me that I'm abstaining while hundreds who have been cajoled into voting as their civic duty are guessing who to vote for on the flimsiest information, and feeling proud of themselves for doing so.  [End of Post]

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